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Scam artists pose as potential tenants or landlords everyday on many different websites and other publications. Why? Because it works.

Knowledge is your best defense.Please read as much information as possible about these scams so you don't become a victim.

For Tenants

Meeting Landlords in person, and viewing INSIDE the property will avoid many scams, but NOT ALL. Scammers are using addresses which match the pictures they post, and are asking for money or deposits before you are able to meet them or view inside the property. They often get these pictures from other rental websites, builders websites, or anywhere on the internet, and masquerade as if they are the property owner/landlord. DON'T BE FOOLED! If you're serious about the property, MEET THE LANDLORD IN PERSON AND VIEW THE INSIDE OF THE PROPERTY. After making sure the property exists, and viewing INSIDE the property, verify that the landlord or property manager is who they claim to be! In some cases the property will still not belong to the person you're meeting, even when viewing inside.

Don't send money for keys. Scammers will often ask you to send a deposit to receive the keys or reserve the property for you. Again, you want to meet them at the property in person, view the INSIDE of the property, and confirm their identity before exchanging any money. Scammers may say they are in another country etc, and can only communicate by email. Often they will spend much time trying to gain your trust with lengthy emails. Use common sense here, if you send money to a stranger, your money will likely be gone forever and you will never reach them again.

Watch out for rental pricing that's too good to be true, as it usually is. In some cases we have seen properties advertised well below market value. Be very careful when you see an ad which looks to good to be true. Scammers often want to scam as many people as possible in a short period of time, so having rates below market makes this easier. Again viewing the property INSIDE, meeting the landlord face to face, and verifying their identity will help to verify the authenticity of these ads.

Be careful of ads posted on free classified ad sites. When ads can be posted for free, with only an anonymous email address, it makes it very easy for scammers to post ads. Sites that require a credit card payment to post ads, are usually better, however, scammers do also pay to post ads with bogus credit cards, so fraudulent ads do exist on all sites.

Be very suspicious if the Landlord wants cash up front. There have been cases where scammers will take numerous cash deposits from potential tenants on a property which they may have also rented with a false identity.

Never provide personal information over the internet. (social insurance number, credit card numbers etc)

For Landlords

Know that Cashier's Checks, Money Orders, Certified Checks, as well as Personal Checks can be forged. Always wait for funds to clear before you return money or rent your property. In many cases even the banks are fooled by these forged documents, until they try to collect the funds.

Meeting potential tenants in person will avoid many scams.
Scammers will often send overpayments, and ask you to send refunds back to them. DO NOT REFUND OVERPAYMENTS! You're dealing with professional scammers, and they know what they're doing. Although money orders or wire transfers can appear to be real, once you have issued a refund your bank can reverse the original deposit when it's found to be fake. This is one of the more common scams. It can take weeks to find out the original deposit is a fake, in some cases as long as 8 weeks depending on remote location where the payment was made from.

Watch out for tenants in another country going into great detail about their personal lives, financial situation etc. in long emails, trying to build your trust and become friendly. Some may attempt to ease your suspicions by letting you know they are a professional in their country, Doctor, Scientist, etc.

When posting your ads online, hide the exact address of the property.
Give potential tenants the address on the phone only after you have spoken with them and only if they sound legitimate. Showing this information makes it easier for scammers to post alternate ads of your property on other classified ad sites. Scammers will often take your ad information, set up a different email address, for example xxxx@hotmail.com (where xxxx matches the name in your ad), in hopes that some tenants will communicate only by email with them on that specific ad.

For Tenants and Landlords

Be suspicious of Tenants or Landlords who are only using anonymous email accounts from yahoo, hotmail, gmail etc. who don't want to provide a phone number. When a phone number is provided, try to verify that the phone number matches the tenants or landlords story. With internet based telephones (IP phones), scammers can be in another country and provide you with a number that appears to be local.

Don't think this is not happening in your area. Some tenants/landlords think these scams are not taking place in your local area, but this is not true. This is happening in all cities and towns throughout Canada, and throughout Alberta, so please be aware!

Report any suspicious listings to us immediately. If you think you have been in touch with a potential scammer, please do your part and report this activity to us at scams@onlinehomesearch.ca with as much information as possible.

Onlinehomesearch.ca Inc. is not involved in any transactions and does not offer any protection against fraud. If you receive any correspondence mentioning such protection, these are also scams.

You may also view more information on common scams, or report a scam at www.phonebusters.com
Phonebusters.com is a national anti-fraud call centre jointly operated by the Ontario Provincial Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Phonebusters is the central agency in Canada that collects information on telemarketing advanced fee fraud letters (Nigerian letters) and identity theft complaints. Information is disseminated to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

THE ABOVE INFORMATION IS PROVIDED FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES AND AWARENESS, AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE A COMPLETE LIST OF FRAUDS TAKING PLACE IN YOUR AREA.

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